Tariq Abukhedir is a former student of mine. I used to be the librarian at Universal Academy of Florida, a private Islamic school in Tampa, FL.

I was shocked, sickened, and horrified when a former co-worker posted a photo of Tariq badly beaten on her Facebook page. This was someone's child, he lived in Tampa, and that alone made me upset. At first I did not realize that I knew him, because he was unrecognizable. I knew the name, but honestly I know a lot of Tariq's and I know a lot of Abukhedir's.

It wasn't until I saw this photo that I put two and two together and realized that I did in fact know Tariq, and I was his teacher for two years.

This is the Tariq that I knew. The goofy, smiling, funny boy that loved basketball, and asked me a million questions about computer technology. He himself knew A LOT about computers, and was always grilling me.

I can't make any claims about knowing what happened when he was in Palestine. I don't know. I only know what the news is reporting.

Earlier this morning I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Talk Radio WFLA970.

They asked me about how Tariq was as a student. I explained that Tariq loved to read books about basketball. He was always kind. Never rude.

Last week on Saturday night the Muslim community held a candlelight vigil for Tariq. I was unable to attend. But I was there in spirit, and in pizza. I sent pizza to the group for when they broke their fast. It was the least I could do.  Feeding a Muslim when they break their fast gets you a lot of prayers. And though I'm not a religious person, who couldn't use prayers from a few hundred people?

The Tariq I know is a good boy. He's an AMERICAN and he needs to come home NOW.

What can you do to help??

1. Join the Florida for Tariq Facebook page.

2. Tell Secretary of State Kerry and Congress to demand action for Tariq HERE.

3. Take a photo of yourself holding a sign with the hastag #BringTariqHome and publish on your social media channels.


It was pretty incredible to be the only non-Muslim surrounded by 400+ Muslims for 3 years. I learned so much not only about Islam, but about myself, my values, and my beliefs. And it comes down to the fact that as parents we ALL want what's best for our children, regardless of what god you may believe in. 


Comments (4) -

  • This is a horrible situation!  Prayers for his family and friends as well as a speedy resolution to this story!
  • What a terrible situation, I hope something can be done to make sure he gets home and is taken care of.
  • Tariq is a nice boy. He is harmless and not out to hurt anyone. His cousin was set on fire with gasoline and burned to death.  Subsequently he joined in a protest and was beaten and arrested by Israeli police. We just want to get him back home before he is set on fire with gasoline as well.

    I think what's going on between Israel and Palestine is insane. People in the Gaza strip fire missiles into civilian areas of Israel. Israel retaliates with more human rights violations, such as what happened with Tariq. The definition of insanity is when you keep repeating the same action over and over again and somehow expect a different result and that is definitely going on here.

    It's very clear to me what is going to result from all of this (1 of 2 possible outcomes):

    1) Both sides will stop the insanity and try to reach some sort of mutual agreement that ends the evil fighting. The key thing is that they must learn to forgive.

    2) One or both sides will kill each other with weapons of mass destruction.

    I'm really hoping for option 1. Nobody wins in outcome 2. If weapons of mass destruction are used in these areas, World War III could easily erupt.

    The universe is ever expanding. There is plenty of space out there. If we can take all this energy that we use for fighting, we could eventually terraform planets in our own solar system and beyond. The first step to this evolvement is learning to forgive.

    Who have you forgiven lately?

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